Carol Carson, who is credited with returning stability and credibility to the role of ethics watchdog in Connecticut, is departing after 11 years.
The state’s ethics board Monday ended its examination of whether Insurance Commissioner Katharine L. Wade has a conflict disqualifying her from reviewing the acquisition of Cigna by Anthem, saying Wade’s voluntary recusal last week makes the question moot.
A lawyer for Insurance Commissioner Katharine L. Wade told state ethics officials Thursday that the commissioner will recuse herself from any role in approving the acquisition of Cigna by Anthem, a deal now jeopardized by a federal antitrust lawsuit.
Insurance Commissioner Katharine L. Wade’s controversial refusal to recuse herself from ruling on the Anthem-Cigna insurance merger has provoked a reappraisal of ethics regulators, who heavily rely on the self-reporting of public officials, and an ethics code that may be clearer to lawyers than lovers of English.
Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo publicly urged Insurance Commissioner Katharine L. Wade on Thursday to recuse herself from Connecticut’s review of the Anthem-Cigna merger, saying even a positive legal ruling from ethics officials would not overcome the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Insurance Commissioner Katharine L. Wade’s first contact with state ethics officials was to inform them in September why she intended to act on the merger of Anthem and Cigna, not to seek a ruling on whether they saw a potential conflict due to her family’s long association with Cigna. Now, while she’s deep in the review of a merger that could transform the health insurance industry, Wade is going to get the legally binding ethics opinion that she and the administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy never saw the need to request.
In a settlement with a lobbyist, the Citizens Ethics Advisory Board made clear Wednesday that contingency fees for lobbying are illegal in Connecticut, but that having to pay a fine also can be contingent.